Causes of Muffled Hearing

Muffled hearing can be caused by something as simple as wax buildup.
Muffled hearing can be caused by something as simple as wax buildup. (Image: Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Muffled hearing is often caused by something small and non-threatening, but it can also be a sign of a serious condition or of a condition that could grow serious if left untreated. If you suffer from any sort of hearing loss you should make an appointment with your doctor.

Airplane Ear

Airplane ear can cause muffled hearing and other symptoms such as a slight pain or pressure in the ear or a feeling of stiffness in the ear. The pain may increase if the condition lasts a long time. This condition is generally a result of air travel. Specifically, it is caused by the different air pressures within your ear and in the environment. It is a common condition and usually does not require treatment.

Otitis Media with Effusion

Otitis media with effusion, or OME, is a condition characterized by a build up of fluid in the ear behind the eardrum. This does not accompany an ear infection, but may be the result of a recent infection. Similarly, the fluid buildup can cause an infection. The condition is caused by the swelling of the tube that connects your throat to your inner ear. This tube is generally where fluids drain, but when swollen it may not drain effectively.

Swimmer's Ear

This is a common source of hearing loss. The early signs are an itching accompanied by the hearing loss. Your ear may also occasionally drain fluid of different types depending on severity of the infection. Generally, mild swimmer's ear does not affect hearing, because this only happens with moderate or advanced swimmer's ear infections. Swimmer's ear should be treated by a doctor, especially if accompanied by a fever because that would indicate a severe infection.

Other Causes

There are many causes for hearing loss, some of which are more common and easily treated than others. A large build up of wax can cause slight hearing loss and can be cured using various over-the-counter solutions. Head injuries can cause hearing problems if the hearing system is injured. Tumors can also form in the ear and affect hearing.

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